Make your words count. Don’t muddy your writing with jargon, unclear construction and repetition.
REDUNDANCIES AND WORDINESS
|needless to say||then why say it?|
|Could care less||couldn’t care less|
|consensus of opinion||consensus|
|thinking to myself||thinking|
|at the present time||now|
|despite the fact that||although|
Avoid overused intensifiers such as: Very, Really, Truly, So, Completely, Totally, Positively, Perfectly.
Re-write for conciseness and description. For example:
A group of words lacking one or more of the following: a subject, a predicate, a complete thought (e.g, a dependent clause).
- Although he passed the test.
- “Now his concern is to be a normally functioning human being again.
- Without the headaches, dizziness, memory loss and lethargy that have been part of his life for too long.”
Lacks proper punctuation e.g, Comma Splice:
- The professor dismissed the class, the students cheered.
Options to fix run-ons:
1) Create two sentences: The professor dismissed the class. The students cheered.
2) Use a semi-colon: The professor dismissed the class; the students cheered.
3) Use a coordinating conjunction: The professor dismissed the class, and the students cheered.
Caused by several dependent clauses or one long dependent clause at the start of a sentence. Problem: delays main idea.
- Even though I felt sick and discouraged at the thought of taking the exam, I passed the LSDT.
PASSIVE & ACTIVE VOICE
The “VOICE” of a sentence indicates the form of the verb.
PASSIVE VOICE: The subject is acted upon by the verb.
- The test was passed by the student.
- The meeting was led by the president.
- The play was canceled.
ACTIVE VOICE: The subject is performing an action. Think: Subject-Verb-Object
- The student passed the test.
- The president led the meeting.
- The director canceled the play.
NOTE: Use of the verb to be (e.g., is, was) does not necessarily mean the passive voice.
- She was managing the store. (active)
- The store was managed by her. (passive)
- She was tired. (indicative)
TIP: Avoid unnecessary introductory phrases and clauses
- It has been shown by numerous studies that studying improves your chances of passing the LSDT.
- Numerous studies have shown that studying improves your chances of passing the LSDT.
CORRECTING PASSIVE VOICE:
- Find the verb in the sentence
- Ask who or what is performing the action.
- Construct the sentence to that the “actor” (subject) performs the action.
Our conclusion was ignored by the committee.
- Verb: ignored
- Actor: committee
- Re-write: The committee ignored our conclusions.
The infant was rescued from the blaze by his mother.
- Verb: rescued
- Actor: mother
- Re-write: The infant’s mother rescued him from the blaze.
- If we write it: His mother rescued the infant from the blaze. “His” is unclear as a pronoun reference.
WHEN PASSIVE VOICE IS JUSTIFIED:
The recipient of the action is more important (prominent) than the performer of the action.
- President Clinton was heckled by an unidentified comedian posing as a journalist.
The actor or performer of the action is unknown, difficult to identify or irrelevant.
- The gift was damaged during shipping.
- NOTE: In this case, the indicative mood (was) is used to state merely a condition or realistic explanation, not an implausible situation.
PARALLEL STRUCTURE (PARALLELISM):
Don’t mix elements in a phrase or series.
- He enjoys books, movies and driving his car. (NO)
- He enjoys reading books, watching movies and driving his car. (YES)
Don’t mix verbals (e.g., gerunds and infinitives).
- He believes in using force and then to resort to diplomacy only if all else fails. (NO)
- He believes in using force and then resorting to diplomacy only if all else fails. (YES)
Don’t mix tenses or voice.
- Workers who were consulted regularly feel more committed to the company and had lower rates of absenteeism. (NO)
- Workers who are consulted regularly feel more committed to the company and have lower rates of absenteeism. (YES)
Don’t mix singular and plural subjects.
- One should study; students should know that. (NO)
- Students should know that they should study. (YES)
Don’t use a dependent clause inappropriately.
- The professor explained the theory of relativity, Newtonian Physics and that critical thinking is at the heart of scientific study. (NO)
- The professor explained the theory of relativity, Newtonian physics and the importance of critical thinking in scientific study. (YES)
Be consistent with grammatical patterns in a sentence (e.g., verb-adjective-noun pattern of three phrases)
- He vowed to decrease federal taxes, increase social services and strengthen foreign relations.